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Arts & Culture

What’s spoken flies away: The history and art of reading aloud

Reading a book on a summer day
Katrin Ray Shumakov
Getty Images
Reading a book on a summer day

There's an old Latin saying from the early middle ages: Verba volant, scripta manent — "What is written remains, what is spoken flies away." Essentially, it means you should write down your contracts.

But according to Alberto Manguel, author of A History of Reading, the phrase can be interpreted in a different way: What is written is stuck to the page. It's only when you give it a voice that it acquires wings and can fly.

This hour is all about reading out loud — we’ll hear about the history of the practice and talk to people who make reading expressive, communal, and loud.


  • Alberto Manguel: Director of Lisbon’s Center for Research into the History of Reading
  • Robin Miles: Hall of Fame audiobook narrator who’s garnered the industry’s top honors, as well as a producer, director, teacher, and actor for theater, television, films, and museums
  • Brooke Steinhauser: Programs Director at the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, MA
  • Drew John Ladd: Blogger, activist, and the author of Wolfsong Beloved
  • Dennis Duncan: Lecturer in English at University College London
  • Taneisha Duggan: Director, producer, arts consultant, and an artist working at the crossroads of performance and creative leadership
  • Chion Wolf: Host of Audaciouson CT Public

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Colin McEnroe and Cat Pastor contributed to this show.

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Carolyn McCusker helps produce The Colin McEnroe Show. She loves making true radio stories and listening to fake ones. In the past, she’s worked for NPR and WNYC, and she’s glad to be back at CT Public after interning in 2019. Carolyn can be reached at cmccusker@ctpublic.org.
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